BKSK recently directed a careful renovation of this mid-century modern home by Frank Lloyd Wright’s protégé Edgar Tafel. After leaving Taliesin, where he was a respected Wright apprentice, Tafel designed this house in 1946 for his parents. It now stands, altered but with an intact core, as an artifact from his successful subsequent career and a tangible link to his mentor.
Designed as a compact 3-bedroom residence with a carport, the roofed parking and toolshed area had previously been extended and enclosed as a family room. After raising their two children, the current owners sought to restore the house while adapting its rooms to their evolving lives.
BKSK’s renovation swapped the guest bedrooms and the family room placement, thereby extending and enhancing the spatial “pinwheel” that characterized the dynamic between living, dining and kitchen spaces, all arranged around a robust central stone hearth. A re-designed kitchen, now opening directly onto both the dining and family rooms, has become more overtly the hinge about which the entire house pivots.
The entrance corridor, initially a passage between carport and front entrance alongside the bedrooms, was transformed into a gallery with open shelving as the permeable divide between the adjacent family room. Throughout the house, light wood elements contrast with and complement the cypress used in 1946, subtly signaling changes to the original.
The work included an upgrading of heating and air conditioning systems, along with a house-wide improvement of insulation value. The completed project remains aesthetically aligned with Tafel’s vision, with greatly improved thermal comfort.
“A Taliesin Architect’s Mid-Century Masterwork Gets an Update,” Upstate House, June 2018
Photos by Michelle Rose
Historic Photos by Lionel Freedman, Pictoral Services, The Architectural FORUM